Back of students walking into commencement ceremony


February 25, 2021

Special Announcement Regarding Commencement 2021

Dear Members of the St. John’s University Community:

Commencement marks an important moment in the lives of our graduates, their families and friends, and the entire St. John’s University community. It is both an end and a beginning. It is a celebration of what has been accomplished and of what more is to come.

As President of St. John’s, I eagerly look forward to the day when I can congratulate each student in person on their academic achievements. Given the current state of the pandemic, however, and the limitations placed on in-person gatherings, we have made the difficult decision to confer degrees through a virtual ceremony this May.

I want our graduates and families to know that we came to this decision reluctantly. We considered numerous modified, in-person options for May, evaluated the ever-changing state and local health and safety guidelines, and assessed the current restrictions limiting the size of in-person gatherings on campus. Given these circumstances, it was clear that we could not gather enough people safely to hold in-person ceremonies in May. We know how important Commencement is to our students and to their families, and did not want this most meaningful of days to be any less significant because of state and local restrictions placed on attendance by loved ones.

While we will confer degrees and celebrate our graduates in a virtual format in May, it is our hope to hold modified, in-person celebrations in the future—hopefully later this summer—when public health and safety guidelines permit us to gather in larger groups.

The schedule for the Virtual Commencement Ceremonies for our graduate- and undergraduate-level graduates (September 2020 and January 2021), and all of our May 2021 prospective graduates, is as follows:

  • Monday, May 17, 2021—College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Graduate-Level
  • Tuesday, May 18, 2021—The Peter J. Tobin College of Business Graduate-Level
  • Wednesday, May 19, 2021—The School of Education Graduate-Level
  • Thursday, May 20, 2021—St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduate-Level
  • Friday, May 21, 2021—The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies Graduate-Level
  • Sunday, May 23, 2021—Undergraduate-Level (Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island)

Our first and foremost priority is to ensure the health and safety of our graduates, their families, and the broader St. John’s community. We are committed to honoring our graduates in a special and distinguished way in May. In the coming weeks, the Office of University Events will provide prospective graduates with more information regarding how to participate in the virtual celebration. Please continue to check your St. John’s email account and the Commencement website for updates.

For the Class of 2020, for whom we had hoped to invite back for an in-person celebration this spring, we are still planning on identifying a time when we can safely bring them back to campus to celebrate their graduation.

Thank you for your extraordinary sacrifices to keep our St. John’s community safe. We look forward to celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2021 this May.

On the other side of this snowy February, spring will arrive and we will witness new life emerge from the earth. For those of us who are Christian, we will renew our faith in the God who has raised Jesus to new life after death.

Increasing vaccinations give us optimism that we might experience a new normal this summer. I wish that all of this could happen faster and allow us a traditional graduation in May, but we all know that we cannot control the course of events.

What we can control is how we react and what we do with the times that we live in. With fidelity to our Catholic and Vincentian mission, let us continue to choose to serve one another, especially our students, with love. The rest is in God’s good hands.

Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P.

Congratulations, graduates!

Members of the Classes of 2020 and 2021: 

Please keep your contact information current with the University. This is critical to St. John's being able to reach you. If you no longer have access to UIS, please call 718-990-2000 for assistance in resetting your login.